Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Mr. Richard M. Hale on February 28, 2003, in Edison, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth and ...
Nicholas Ferroni: ... Nicholas Ferroni.
SI: Mr. Hale, thank you very much for having us at your home again.
Richard Hale: My pleasure.
NF: We would like to pick up our line of questioning at the end of World War II.
NF: There were three sons in your family, Jack, the eldest, you, and Phillip, the youngest. Jack also served during World War II, in the Navy. Did you ever discuss with Jack the differences between your tours of duty?
RH: ... Yes, we did. As I may have mentioned at our last interview, when the war was over, ... we were as gung ho with trying to be civilians, and emphasized the needs and the direction forward, as we were gung ho to fight in the war [laughter] for our country, in the early stages. So, we didn't get to talking too much about it, but, I was proud of his role in the Navy. He was on a PBM [ Martin PBM-1 Mariner ] ... and was a navigator or something, and so, we never got to exchanging too much information in that regard.
SI: Were you able to correspond with your family during the war?
RH: Yes, we corresponded, I guess, on some kind of a regular basis. I guess we were all comfortable, [laughter] knowing where each one of us in the family was and what each was doing.
NF: Was your mail censored; if so, to what degree? Were you prohibited from disclosing your location, and so forth?
RH: Yes. In my case, since I was usually in a very classified situation, I believe our mail was carefully screened, particularly when we were ... over in the frontlines, whether it was in Europe or in Korea, but, I was so used to it that when I would write to my parents or family, to my wife, Ruth, ... I realized that I had to be careful about putting classified stuff in the letters, and you just get used to it.
NF: Would the censors retype the letters or black out the sensitive information?
RH: I don't remember. I don't think they blacked out much. I guess I was kind of aware that you had to be careful about what you write and I just don't remember having stuff changed, or redone, or blacked out. Maybe some were, but, I don't remember it.
SI: Did you censor the mail of your enlisted men?
RH: ... My recollection is that we informed the men ... [of] how important and secretive their mission was and is and to be very careful about divulging anything as to location, and, of course, we had drummed into us, "Name, rank and serial number." [laughter] ... That's all we could divulge to anybody, ... particularly if we were captured. So, that was ... indelible in our minds.
SI: In World War II, did you ever have any contact with the Red Cross when you were at the front?
RH: You know, I don't remember it, but, probably, ... they played a role in the lines in the rear of our frontline situation, and, of course, they were probably limited as to how close to the frontlines they could come, and so, I didn't see them, since my outfit and my people were all, pretty much, on the frontlines. So, I'm sure the Red Cross was doing its thing. I've heard nothing to the contrary. [laughter]
SI: During the offensive into Germany, your division covered a vast area in a short amount of time.
SI: Did your unit ever come upon any evidence of the Holocaust, the camps, displaced persons, and so forth?
RH: It's interesting. ... We, I think, were aware [of] and we were continually on the alert to watch [for] the German elite corps. We'd call them "the krauts." ... We "dogfaces" would hear that they were, of course, vicious and committed atrocious acts and things. We moved so rapidly ... down through Bavaria, and ended up in Berchtesgaden, if I didn't mention that to you before, ... [that] the elite German corps, ... we encountered it, but, they didn't give us that much trouble, because we ... just, by then, had a growing, superior force, and so, in many cases, the Germans were in a retreating mode, and very often they would be very strongly protective of natural barriers, and they were very good at that. ... We had lots of casualties as a result of that, but, I think we were too fast moving to see or hear much of this Holocaust stuff that we hear an awful lot about since the war was over.
SI: Your unit never came across any of the camps.
RH: No, we didn't.
SI: During the war, did you ever run into any other Rutgers men?
RH: During the war, of course, we had, and I think you have some knowledge about our group in our Class of '44, called the Black Fifty, and ... many of us in the Black Fifty, which, of course, were all Rutgers fellows, ... went to Officer Training School in Fort Benning together, most of us, not all of us, because some went to the Signal Corps area, but, then, we were shipped overseas, and I think, particularly, of fellows like Doug McCabe and Bill Greenberg. Have you interviewed Bill at all? Well, Bill was a very good officer and he was in my battalion, as I remember. He was an officer in Charlie Company, and I was in D Company, Dog Company. There were several others, but, you know, we were on a mission, and you just don't have as much time to commiserate as ... you'd think. I may have forgotten some situations, but, essentially, there wasn't a great deal of [interaction]. I would have loved it. I think we all would have loved it, but, you get separated and doing your own thing, and you just don't have the time.
NF: I asked this question in the last interview, but, perhaps, you could elaborate on this topic. After the war in Europe ended, what were your thoughts when you were informed that you would be continuing your tour in the Philippines?
RH: [laughter] Well, that's ... interesting. ... I had mixed feelings, and the reason [was], I say "I" and "we" had mixed feelings, when the war was over, V-E Day, either there or coming up, to hear that we would ... be shipping out to the States, because we didn't have quite the time in combat as the 82nd Airborne [Eighth Infantry Division] that we relieved, ... and so, they had had more time on-line before we went on-line, and so, we were chosen. The 86th Division was selected because it didn't have that much combat time. ... Interestingly, we had had combat training in the Pacific. ... Before the Battle of the Bulge, we were trained to fight in the Pacific and attack Japan and our people were pretty well trained for that. So, we were, probably, ... one of the most eligible units, ... and, maybe, by then, experienced divisions to be selected for this. The reason that we were kind of happy about it is that we were the first ones to be sent back to the States. That was a big, big thing. When you're over there, and you've completed your mission, and you just sit around, you think of your family and friends at home, the big thing is, how do you get home? you know, and that was ... sort of our ticket to get home for thirty or forty-five days. As I remember, that time was needed, though it was sort of an R&R [period] for us, because we're all allowed to go home, but, we were being re-equipped with the Pacific equipment and firepower. Combat was a little different situation in the Pacific, as you know, from Europe, and ... we accepted that, because the important thing was getting home, and so, I guess, generally, we felt, "Well, we'll take what comes. We're, at least, getting home before some of the other guys."
NF: How were you trained to fight in Japan, as opposed to fighting the Germans, knowing that it would be a different type of battle and a different type of enemy?
RH: Right. Our division, at least, the Blackhawk [Division], the 86th Division, trained on the West Coast, and we were ... set up and trained to disembark from the sides of the ships, and then, hit the islands in the Pacific. One of the better known islands was Catalina Island, which was off the [California] coast there, and we would be trained to leave the ship and go in on the LCIs, ... Landing Craft, Infantry, or whatever other [landing craft], that was one of the most popular ones for our battle groups, and hit the ground, and then, proceed, with practice tactics, ... to win the battle of the beachhead, and we got, I guess, fairly well trained in that area, so that after that, and I guess this answers your question, ... when we, all of a sudden, heard we were going to be shipped out to the East Coast, and we can say it now, to Camp Myles Standish, but, it was a big, secretive thing at the time. ... I got a week's leave, and, in that week's time, I got married, with the girl I'd been going with for six years. We were sent over to Myles Standish, and then, ... it was all sort of a "hurry up" thing, but, ... I think we were well trained ... for Europe, the Battle of the Bulge, even though it was a completely different environment, but, when we finished that, ... though we had casualties and we didn't all return, the nucleus returned, and we were, ... I think, a pretty good fighting outfit, if and when we were sent over to attack Japan, which was the plan.
SI: This may be pure speculation on my part, but, since your division was trained in assaulting enemy shores and establishing a beachhead, do you think that could be the reason why the 86th was assigned to a number of river crossing operations in Europe?
RH: Yes. Well, it was quite a bit different, but, you know, in your total training, in the basic training and in our training with our outfit, after the full line of training, you're pretty much attuned to most things that you'd run into. It was always a challenge to cross rivers and bridges, because the Germans were so good ... in defending them. ... They did it well, and it was ... always a challenge to try to seek them out, because I was commander, at that time, of the .81 mm mortar platoon, and we'd have to be up in front of the frontlines and radio back the fire. We'd give them the fire directions and you'd try to zero in on the enemy, if you could find them. ... If you couldn't find them, you'd have battle plans, that you'd bomb here, and here, and here, hoping that was the locations of their troops and weapons.
NF: How different and new was the environment in the Philippines? Were you caught off guard by the area where you would serve in the Army of Occupation?
RH: Well, ... I may have mentioned this to you before, ... we were out in the Pacific when the atomic bomb was dropped, and, when it was dropped, we didn't know about it, immediately, but, of course, all the world knew about it shortly thereafter, and then, we thought, "Well, the Army doesn't know what to do with us," and, probably, that was true, at least ... that was our feeling, ... but, shortly after that, we heard that our division was to do clean up duty of the Japanese, because some Japanese didn't really know that the war was over. They'd be up in the hills and that didn't amount to too much. We captured them, and we didn't have too many casualties in doing that, ... and then, if this speaks to your question, the biggest thing was trying to keep the morale of the men up to snuff. ... That was very difficult, because ... they were trained to be a fighting infantry group, [laughter] and we weren't fighting, and we'd go into Manila, we were stationed outside of Manila, and our regiment had some pretty good ballplayers, Dominic DiMaggio, I know, was one, Joe Garagiola, and we would ... take the men in to see them, to see our regimental team play. Our regimental team was a very good one. I don't know how we got some of the stars that were [there], but, anyway, we'd continually seek ways to keep them busy, because there wasn't very much that we could do. ...
NF: You crossed paths with Dominic DiMaggio.
RH: Oh, yes, but, Dominic DiMaggio played for our [regimental team], and that was Joe's younger brother, and he was a very good ballplayer, and Joe Garagiola, and then, this pitcher, Early Wynn, was it? very good pitcher. He wasn't fiery, but, his record was great in the major leagues. Early Wynn was very good, and those fellows, among, maybe, a couple of the others, were really stars. You'd value little things like that, and those were your major interests, because there isn't too much other activity. The big deal was trying to find out [about the points]. The Army set up a point system based on, I think, your frontline duty, the time in service, and time overseas, and I've just forgotten all of the criteria, but, that's what we had to live with in order to establish our priority to be sent home, and it was a little tough, because we weren't making much [headway]. We didn't have enough to keep us occupied.
NF: On the topic of morale, were your men beginning to lose hope that they would ever leave the Pacific? Did the war seem endless?
RH: ... If I can recall this accurately, I didn't get that feeling. I think we all felt that, eventually, we would be sent home ... and, of course, why are we being kept there? We won the war. Japan surrendered, and, of course, prior to that, V-E Day was a complete surrendering by the Axis, Hitler and his group, and, "There's no reason why we should be needlessly over here," was our thinking, and, "We should be sent home." That's one reason why it was so hard to keep the morale up.
NF: Morale was faltering as time wore on.
RH: Yes, that was it. ... We weren't, in our area, close enough to things. We knew about the atomic bomb, and we knew that that was a devastating thing, but, that wasn't important to us at that time. The important thing to us was, "How come the Army can't, maybe, be more efficient and get us home, since we've completed our job." [laughter] We oversimplified it, of course, but, that's human nature.
SI: Were you assigned a specific task during the occupation?
RH: Initially, as I mentioned, ... we were assigned clean-up duty, but, ... that didn't take too long, and then, I guess, our main mission was keeping the troops happy and healthy, ... because, at that time, there was no future need for frontline duty by our American troops. That was our feeling then, and I guess that was true, but, trying to keep up morale ... was the problem. I can remember, we'd have a sports competition between companies and that was a big deal! We had, in our company, (or was it the battalion?) ... a top volleyball team. We had a couple of excellent guys and, to us, winning that volleyball tournament for our company was extremely important. We tried to generate stuff like that, to keep the morale up, and, of course, you had to be careful of the guys going into [Manila]. We could go into Manila at certain times. You had to be careful [of] the guys getting into too much trouble, which they might. It was continuous strife to keep things where you'd like to have them, but, we made it.
NF: Were there times when your morale was faltering, but, you had to come off as rock hard and positive in front of your men?
RH: Yes. I think all of us, officers, and non-commissioned officers, and privates, and PFCs, we all would love to go home. We all had families or something. We had a good reason for wanting to go home. In our case, as officers, ... it was our duty to keep the troops in as happy a posture ... as we could. Yes, we wanted to go home. Nobody was more anxious to go home, I think, than I, but, you have to ... go along with the Army orders, and the Army orders are, supposedly, well constituted. Maybe we didn't always think so, but, that's where it was.
SI: Were you ever sent on leave while in the service, either in Europe or in the Pacific? Did you ever go to a USO show or club?
RH: Yes. Let's see, I'm trying to remember whether this was in World War II or in Korea; we had what we called R&R and that was very popular. R&R was something that everybody knew and looked forward to, because, if you were in the frontlines for awhile, you would earn three days, or something, in R&R. ... What we did; again, I'm afraid I'm thinking a little bit more about our experience in Korea, but, going over to Tokyo was a great experience, ... because it was a different and relaxing environment. There weren't the war conditions. There ... were all kinds of entertainment and, of course, the popular thing was the geisha girls, to most of us. [Editor's note: Geisha girls were hostesses/entertainers skilled in traditional Japanese ceremonial practices and performance arts, such as tea ceremonies, flower arrangement, etc.] We had ... lots of planned things that were pretty good, Mikimoto's Pearl Farm, I know that I went to [that], ... and it seems to me that most of us tried to do things, maybe buy things that ... our family would like at home, and I bought some of this excellent china for very little money. This one large set that Ruth and I use all the time was ordered by a general, and he left before he could pick it up or something, and the two sets that I ordered over in Tokyo were just very special to us, and we still use these. ... We had programs, probably set up by USO ... and our command offices, to try to entertain the men at that time, because that's what we needed to do. The R&R thing, as I mentioned before, was very important. I never remember having more than three days of R&R, but, they'd fly us back over to Tokyo, and then, put us up in a hotel, and ... there were lots of interesting, if you were interested in history, ... things in that culture that we Americans didn't know about. So, there was a lot to learn and that was a good experience for us, to see what the Asians and Japanese [culture were about], how they existed, and what were their points of interest, and what was their background and future. One of the things that was so interesting to me was that we went to some classes, and they started, these little Japanese kids in kindergarten, and they were ... arranging flowers and did a beautiful job. Well, of course, this is ... a special asset of the Japanese. They get that early training and they're very artistic.
SI: In World War II, you were indoctrinated to think of the Japanese as the enemy.
RH: Oh, yes.
SI: During the Korean War, they were our ally. Did it ever seem strange to you to stand side-by-side and intermingle with a former foe?
RH: Yes. Even today I think of this; we were taught, I guess this is repetitious, some of it, but, in our latrines and wherever we could, we ... thought of the Japanese as just, you know, terrible, sneaky, ... always very untrustworthy people, and the more that we lived in that environment of distrust and everything, the worse they became. Even today, I think so often of ... the alliances that we have with the Japanese people. I've taken some trips over to Japan. How we can so soon, and this is the history that repeats itself [bit], ... become allies with people who were terrible, terrible enemies. ... As I say, that's indelible in my thinking, that we are working with, and helping, and cajoling, and doing all of those very friendly activities that were so contrary to us. We had to learn to hate them, because, very often, in our infantry relationship, it was a bayonet battle, and we had to learn to put that bayonet in, and we [officers] had to teach our men this, as we were taught this. "Get that bayonet in and put it up." ... They were so terrible, it got a little hard to get rid of that attitude toward them. I don't know what would have been the feeling if they'd won the war. Well, it's hard ... to judge that, that relationship was a very bad one, and I think our countries are trying to dispel that kind of relationship as much as they can, but, when we were trained and in the frontlines, ... were trying to train ourselves and our people to hate and to kill, it gets a little hard to get off that!
NF: You mentioned earlier where you were when the atomic bomb was dropped. As a military officer, at the time, what were your feelings about President Truman's decision? To this day, he is criticized for what he did, although the facts show that it was the best possible decision. What are your thoughts on his presidency and his decision, as an officer in his Army?
RH: I can't help but recall that we were very happy about it. ... Referring to that, it leaves me a little bit vague as to the ... exact feeling that we had. We were glad, I'm sure, that our country was winning the war, and, of course, very shortly after they dropped the bomb, there were the ceremonies aboard the Missouri , I guess it was, ... with MacArthur, and President Truman was the President then, after President Roosevelt died, and Truman was the one who made that decision, and, probably, there ... could be nothing but happiness on our part, because we're American soldiers; we'd fight if we had to. Pretty soon, the anxiety of fighting for your country and things like that were diminishing, because, by now, we wanted to get home to our families, and our jobs, the university. Most of us, in my class, had finished three years, but, had the fourth year at Rutgers to complete. We were anxious to come back and do that. ...
NF: Could you elaborate further on your experiences in crossing the Danube River?
RH: Well, I've thought about that experience many times, because it was very close to me. As I mentioned to you, getting up to that point, we had rapidly moved forward against the German forces, and our men, my men, particularly, but, not only my company, also, probably other companies in the battalion, were quite exhausted, because there wasn't time for stopping and resting, and we would, pretty much, go day and night, ... so that when we got up to the Danube and Eichstatt, ... I normally wouldn't tell the men, ... if we captured this next village, that they could rest. That was really a decision of the higher command, [rather] than mine, but, I did tell them that, because ... they needed the rest very badly. They were getting careless ... with their firearms and I thought that any farther battling would probably not be in their best interest or the company's best interest. So, I did say that, but, when we got up to the banks, the battle was quite fierce, and what happened [was], on our side of the Danube, ... D Company was composed of two heavy machine gun platoons, and those platoons were on-line, and two officers, one officer who was a senior officer, Lieutenant Seiders, was killed, and he was ... the commander of the first machine gun platoon, and then, another officer, both of these people were good friends of mine, was Lieutenant Gustafson, and he was under such strain that he had to be sent to the rear. So, I was the only on-line officer left at that point, and, yes, these things, I guess, are sort of heartbreaking, but, you don't have time to really consider them, like you would today, in civilian life. You have to move ahead and accomplish whatever objective is there. I think that is the reason that I was selected to lead the crossing of the Danube, and we did it at night, in the rubber boats. Some of this was vague to me, but, when we established this beachhead on the other side, I remember, our company clerk, I think his name [title] was, said to me, [laughter] "Lieutenant Hale, you were amazing, you were amazing," and so forth, and I never thought about it, and I didn't think about it very much since then, but, probably, it was because we were the forward force of the attack and the establishment of the beachhead on the other side. I think I mentioned [this] before, [it was] not good, tactically, for our unit, because ... we had more casualties than we should have, ... but, from General Patton's point of view, the strategy of his army was to, at all costs, move ahead ... and win the war. So, it was an interesting experience, because my own unit was partly sacrificed, you might say, for the total good of the larger objective, interesting that I was there and was involved in this sort of thing, and I do remember that well. It's significant from several points of view, the fact that my two best friends, officers, were killed and sent to the rear, in Lieutenant Gustafson's place, because he just ... couldn't quite take the stress any more. It never happened to me, but, we're all different, and some people can't take the strain like others. So, that was a critical time, and may have been a wonderful achievement, in some respects. When you get on the other side of the river and establish your beachhead at night, ... the communications are difficult, and soldiers shout, "Lieutenant Hale, I'm hit, I'm hit," and you'd hear it from different directions, and you'd try to handle things as best you could, ... without the facilities there that you'd like to have, in the way of medical care and better communications, but, we made it. It was one of the most, probably, significant and crucial areas that I remember in the Central Europe campaign, over there in Europe.
SI: Could you also elaborate on your men, their character and so forth?
RH: This was a normal cross-section of American boys, and I brought up the book by Brokaw, who mentioned the various kinds of men that ... made up our Army, and I think my people were similar. ...
Interesting to me, also, during our training and our combat, was the make up of the people, because I've always enjoyed being with people and, probably, studying them, a little bit, in a very informal way, but, my recollections [of] ... the men in my company and in my platoon were that they were a typical cross-section, ... some real characters, that they were so diverse, but, I guess, a good cross-section of what we all see today, and interesting that we all could be thrown in together and work ... toward our major objective; that was, winning the war, and we all had to sacrifice, commiserate, and work hard, and learn to do things that we weren't used to in civilian life. It was a very good experience to look back on, because, in most cases, they all tried to achieve the mutual objective. We tried to endure. I think we did endure relatively well. Some people found it a lot more difficult than others, but, that's sort of the diverse American character. ... One of the things, among the men, that was interesting to me [was], some of those that you would think would be the strongest in battle were not always the strongest. When it came right down to facing the enemy in risk situations, ... some of the real tough guys were not quite the tough guys that they made out to be.
NF: Their true character showed?
RH: True character usually really showed. [laughter] At one time, and this is going back to the early stages of ... our engagement with the enemy in the Battle of the Bulge [Central Europe campaign], there was this fellow we were all kind of proud of, this lieutenant who came into our company. He was the eighth ranking heavyweight boxer in the world, at that time, at least that was the way it came to us, and [I have] just forgotten his name, but, ... we had to send out some patrols across the Rhine River, and these were reconnaissance patrols, so that we'd know how to attack from there. This one fellow was given ... this reconnaissance assignment and he just ... couldn't handle it. He couldn't lead. This particular case, as I remember it, was leading a patrol of six to eight men, with a certain objective across the river, in going over there, and ... the fellow who had to take the patrol was a very unassuming, sort of overweight, new officer, and he went over and had a very successful patrol, and returned home with minimum casualties, and so, you just don't always know, when you get into the pressures of battle, what you're going to encounter. I think, all in all, we, as the American troops, were able to handle things relatively well, but, you have diverse situations.
SI: Stephen Ambrose pointed out in his book, Citizen Soldiers , that the Army allowed for and encouraged initiative on the part of the individual soldier and the average American serviceman often found solutions for the practical problems they faced in the field. Did you observe any examples of this phenomena?
RH: ... Yes, what we would call that, Shaun, we would establish our own "field expedient;" it's always "field expedient." Whatever we needed to do or make an excuse for something we shouldn't have done, well, that was a "needed field expedient." ... Yes, we were innovative. I have to admit this, because I don't know much more about it, for example, I had this one sergeant who was, let's say, sort of an outgoing, tough, but reliable and responsible person, and we were moving, ... and this sergeant, again, I've forgotten his name, but ...
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RH: ... He said, "Lieutenant Hale, I'll take care of this," and he took this group back. I have an idea he didn't treat them too well, but, I knew nothing about it, but, he was that kind of guy, "I'll take care of it," and I think there might have been some less than, let's say, totally upgrade handling of the situation, but, you'd run into all kinds of people like that. "War is hell!"
NF: I would like to hear about your feelings during your voyage home.
RH: Coming home from Europe or from Korea?
NF: From the Philippines.
RH: Oh, from the Philippines. Well, ... again, as I alluded to earlier, that was a highly sought after return home, and one of the things that I remember particularly, I had, I think, some dysentery that I didn't pay much attention to, and it was from the dirty situations over there, your food, and ... your clean[ing] situation, and sleeping, and handling food, and things, and, when the men got dysentery, you'd send them to the rear, so that they could be properly taken care of with the antibiotics and things, but, I had a touch of that, and I didn't think I needed to, but, then, it gets to be a little bit chronic. So, I was sent over to the Army hospital, and they tried to take the tests and get rid of it, and, finally, they did, but, it was a long ordeal, and I was afraid it was going to hold up my being sent home. I don't think it did, but, ... I think I had to come back here to the Fort Dix hospital, and they got rid of it. I believe that was it. I'm a little confused with some of the homecoming that you referred to, whether from Europe, first, and then, Korea, but, the European homecoming was a wonderful, wonderful hope and dream that you lived with when you're over there in the infantry situation.
NF: I am sorry, after your service in the Philippines, were you then sent back to Europe? Is that where you came home from?
RH: No, the Philippines.
NF: As far as your discharge ...
RH: For my discharge, and before Korea, okay, yes. Well, it can get confusing to me, too, because there were some similar circumstances, [laughter] but, from the Philippines, we were all sent back, and, now, (you may have heard about this before), wanted us, particularly Reserve officers, to enlist in the active Reserve. This was sort of a directive, I guess, ... coming from the very top of the United States Military Command. They wanted to enlist as many officers [as possible], I suppose all levels of troops, to go into [the] active Reserve. ... It's a matter of security policy, or of protecting our ability, as a country, to go into war, if we needed to. I was not interested in becoming a member of the active Reserve. I didn't mind being a member of the inactive Reserve, but, one of the things that happened ... is this; if I were a member of the inactive Reserve, I could get out three or four days early, if I would become an inactive Reservist, and an inactive Reservist really meant, later on, I didn't know too much about it at that time, that you didn't have to go to the regular monthly meetings, or quarterly meetings, with other troops, that we were inactive. As long as ... they didn't need us, we didn't have to do any further training, and that suited me, because I thought, you know, we did the job we were supposed to do, and I was ... most interested in civilian life; I [had] had enough Army living, Army life. So, I was an inactive Reservist. Now, this is significant, because, a short time later, as we all know, and you have in your own files, I'm sure, when the Korean Crisis proliferated, so that it became an important need for our country to [enter the war], the inactive Reservists were sent over, were rounded up, [laughter] ... and the active Reserve officers, ... particularly junior officers, captains and lieutenants, were kept in reserve with the units, so that they would be sent over with their organized units. We inactive Reserve officers were sent over, but, individually. ... This is not jumping ahead. I was very happy to get home, and to get started, and coming back to Rutgers to get my last year organized. ... What a different experience it was, because I was married then and the fraternity life, and the "rah-rah" spirit, and everything that we knew for the first three years really didn't exist. We had matured an awful lot as men and, for those of us who weren't maimed or killed, it was a wonderful background to have. Unfortunately, it was a very, very tragic thing for some of our people, for, I guess, many of our people. I was blessed; I didn't have that, but, when the Korean Crisis started to become more difficult and we realized that we were going to have to send troops over there to fight against the North Koreans and the Chinese, my name, somehow, was in the files. My father was a good friend of Archie [Archibald] Alexander. Archie Alexander is the Alexander Library, and I guess they were political friends, but, Archie was Undersecretary of the Army. I was doing graduate work ... at Rutgers. I think this was doing work for my Masters degree. I had a fellowship ... up at [a place called] called Greenbrook Farm. It was a poultry farm and the largest of its kind, that was an automatic farm, here in the Northeast. I was trying, ... as an economist, to figure out the way that the farm could be economically feasible, for [the farm] to continue. So, my Dad ... had written this letter to the Secretary of the Army. Nobody had heard anything. We assumed that I was rejected, because ... farmers, in certain situations, received preferential status, because they were important to the ... country, or the war effort, or something, and I was running this farm. So, apparently, I was ... excused, or what do they call it? I was exempt. So, we went along, and up there, in North Caldwell, New Jersey, I was working one day, and ... I got a call from, ... here in Edison Township, my father's office, here at Woodbrook Farms, and [the person] said, "There's some military police here and they're looking for you," and I thought, "Oh, my gracious," I thought, "I'll bet I know what's happened," ... and I think she must have said something like, ... "It's very important that they contact you, because you're supposed to have reported to the general command in Fort Dix," and I didn't know this, but, I thought, "Uh-oh, we've got to do something about this." ... So, I got in my car and took off for back here, for Edison Township, from North Caldwell. Here, on my way back, I passed this car with four military police officers, [laughter] coming up to my office up there at Greenbrook Farms, in North Caldwell, after me. ... So, I, of course, kept right on going, got back that afternoon, and I got a call that it was imperative that I report to Fort Dix, to, you know, go on active duty immediately . ... Apparently, they needed some of the inactive Reserve officers to replace some of the casualties, because, over in Korea, ... the scenario was much different, and that is, ... well, I'm jumping a little ahead, but, I think I mentioned to you some of the assignments that I had, ... Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge were the two main battle sectors, and I was sent to ... one of those sectors, and, ... the gooks, as we called them, the Chinese and North Koreans, their method of fighting was a very, apparently, successful, cagey, sneaky thing. They would try to envelope the command post of companies and kill the officers, and then, they would really have dismantled the organization, and so, apparently, they were ... very successful, at least for a period of time, in doing that, and, probably, that's one reason they needed replacement officers, and one of the reasons that I wasn't exempt and was put under pressure to get over there in a hurry. ... Incidentally, ... we had a little orientation for these Reserve officers. As I remember, ... I've forgotten, some of it was at Fort Dix and some of it was some other close by area, and we were sent over as soon as they could get us ready, and I remember, I was sent into Newark Airport, ... to this C-47, that's the old DC-3. ... I remember leaving at night and saying good-bye to my wife and it was really kind of ... a sad sort of thing, because there wasn't time to say good-bye to friends and things. I was just shipped out. ...
NF: You also had two children by this time.
RH: I had two children at this time ... and a lot of my friends around here said how unfair that was, because they knew what I was doing. They just thought that was terribly unfair, ... because some of them had relationships ... with active Reserve officers, and they weren't sent, and I had two children, and I was sent without any [delay]. ... [laughter] You know, it was one of those things that happens, a little hard to take, but, anyway, [I] took off, a long, long trip before I got over to Korea. ... This C-47, you know, was that old plane, I guess it was quite a reliable plane, which was the DC-3 that we ... knew of commercially. We used to think it was the big plane, but, it was a tiny, little thing, and we went from here over to Seattle, and we went from Seattle over to the Aleutians. Of course, these planes had to make a lot of stops, because they didn't have that kind of ... fuel capacity, but, finally, we got over to Korea, and I was sent from Army headquarters to division, to regiment, to battalion, and assigned ... as company commander of "A" Company, because this, apparently, ... Captain White was his name, was just killed the night before, ... and so, I went up on-line, and things worked out well. ... It's a little hazy. I remember our having to call in napalm bombs right in front of our troops. The enemy, the only way you could get rid of them was to kind of flush them out, and those napalm bombs, which were like jelly bombs and they would start a fire, they'd be dropped, and they'd start a fire. You had to be very careful that you didn't hit your own troops. We were pretty successful in using those, and we dislodged the enemy, and everything worked out fine, and so, ... finally, I survived and was called back to the rear side of the hill as the battalion adjutant, which is ... a staff position.
NF: How did your service with the Second Infantry Division vary from your tour with the Blackhawk Division, in terms of the troops, the organization, and so on?
RH: Well, it was quite different and hard to compare. The Blackhawk Division, in World War II, we trained together and we knew each other. We were part of a unit trained here to go over there and fight. When we were sent over as Reserve officers, we didn't know the unit, even though they may have been well established units and everything, but, we didn't really train with them, but, by then, we had enough experience as officers to be a little flexible and know where we are. As a matter of fact, I was more experienced, by then, than a lot of the officers that were on [the] frontlines, and so, you learned to exist, and to direct, and to do your job.
NF: Did they earn your respect in battle?
RH: I think so. ... I just assumed that they did. I can't think of specific items where I can prove it, but, they conformed, we conformed, [laughter] and we learned to live together, and they took direction, as they were supposed to.
NF: You were basically thrown into Korea. In terms of preparation, you were only given a brief orientation.
NF: How many adjustments did you have to make in this new environment, compared to your tour in Germany? You mentioned that the Koreans fought a completely different war than you were used to? You can be prepared for anything, but, usually, nothing goes as planned.
RH: Well, yes, nothing goes as planned is true. ... One of the phenomena that I think, probably, speaks to that a little bit [is], with all of the training that we had, and it was [from] sincere, hard working instructors, and [the] preparedness that we all went through to do those things that are sound, militarily, as infantry officers and infantrymen, when you get into battle, into the face of battle, and particularly over in Europe, before the Korean thing, you know, it's sort of a case of no-holds-barred. ... You do what you can to win the battle. It might not be completely the way you learned to do things, but, you learned to exist and learned to accomplish the objective as best you could, using common sense or whatever was there, but, it was quite a bit different. My point is, ... in many cases, from the kind of disciplined training that we went through over here in the States, before we got there. When it comes to Korea, ... it was a different situation, but, we had been through so much in World War II, I don't remember it being any big area of adjustment. ... Our orientation helped us to just move into the situation with a little bit of, probably needed, confidence and it worked.
NF: Which adjustments in your procedures worked best in Korea?
RH: We knew ... something of the circumstances ... of going up on-line in Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge, and I use those two because they were the center of our United States sector, and, ... after eight or ten days, we were ordered back to the reverse side of the hill. You can only stay up there in the line [for] so long. If there's the stress of fighting day and night, you're usually brought back. We went from one situation to the other, hoping that we would be relieved of some of the frontline duties. So, we were ... in both situations and, ... as you get to know your people, you get to use your judgment as to responsibility, and firepower, and things that you're supposed to do. You just accept it, I guess that's [my point], and, again, we weren't green officers, at least I wasn't, so, it was easier to adjust.
NF: You mentioned the use of napalm against the North Koreans; how many American or Allied troops were killed in these attacks? There were probably some friendly-fire losses.
RH: ... Yes, and I don't know, and I've thought about the answer to that question many times. It's very hard for us to determine what the accurate amount [is]. I would suspect that we had a lot more casualties than is recorded in our reports, because it's something you don't want to [have] happen, and it's usually a judgment call, I guess, if there's any question as to whether it was enemy fire or our own fire. It was a real benefit to our forces that we did have napalm bombing, because that was a quick way to engage the enemy effectively, because they were so sneaky and they were ... hard to flush out, and that was an effective way to do it.
SI: Do you remember, roughly, the time of year when you were sent to Korea?
RH: I'm thinking that we went up on-line in ... October, November, because it was getting cold, and you people may remember seeing ... some of the MASH episodes. Well, it was somewhat similar to that. It was cold, dreary; very often, the atmosphere ... and environment were ... very demoralizing. There wasn't any attractive landscape. You had to get up there with the rest of your forces, and take command of the territory, and then, ... fight in that area as best you could. Fortunately, we were able to, first, hold the line, and then, we defeated the gooks, as we called them, and put them back beyond the 38th Parallel, which was our objective. I don't know whether that answered [your question].
SI: By the time you got to the front, had Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge already been taken?
RH: No, no, we were on-line there. I don't remember how long it was. Some of the ... time periods are vague to me, but, we did what we were required. I didn't think that I had a lot of ... casualties in my unit, but, I may have forgotten some of that information.
SI: You were commanding an infantry company.
RH: Yes, infantry company. That was A Company.
SI: Was it a significant adjustment for you to switch from commanding a mortar unit to commanding an infantry unit?
RH: ... For example, ... going back to World War II, ... after this battle ... of the Danube, I guess, ... I became, because of lack of others, ... company exec officer, and I really ran the company at times, ... and, as junior officers, you're trained to command a little bit higher unit all the time. ... It's kind of normal. So, it was ... not anything really new.
NF: When you went into combat in World War II, you did not know what to expect, but, in Korea, you probably had a better idea of what lay ahead. Were you better prepared the second time around?
RH: ... Yes. In World War II, we were all green officers and men ... going into the Battle of the Bulge [Central Europe Campaign], but, ... when we went over as a replacement, ... I'm speaking for myself, because ... we were individuals and not with a unit at that time, ... I think most of us weren't green or anything. We just could handle what came up. I suspect that's what most of us felt, and we did, for better or for worse, and, usually, we were successful.
SI: In preparing for this interview, I reviewed the various phases of the war in Korea. The first year was a seesaw battle for control of the peninsula.
SI: By the time you arrived in theater, the war had developed into a war of attrition, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy while holding strategic points.
RH: I think that's true, and I guess the reason I was finally sent back to be a staff officer was that we had ... established our positions, so that, ... I think, now, it was merely a holding posture that we were involved with, and ... I guess they were light, or they needed help, in the staff area, on the reverse side of the hill, and I remember how great that was, because I was appointed by the battalion commander as liquor officer, and the officers, big deal, ... had some priority in getting a monthly, I guess it was monthly, allotment of liquor, and we had some of these very fine liquors that were sent over from the States, [laughter] and I would dispense them to officers in our group. That was kind of a lot of fun and intrigue, because some of the fine liquors, you'd never even see over here. That was the war effort, and we got the best, over there, that we had here, at least we thought we did.
NF: Obviously, it is difficult for civilians to understand what it is like to be involved in a war as a serviceman. How well did you readjust to civilian life? How did non-veterans relate to you as a veteran?
RH: Well, ... and I think that Tom Brokaw, in his book, will allude to this, I think that war effort [World War II] prepared so many of us to come back and be successful in civilian life. We grew up a little bit, we knew some of the hardships that we otherwise might not have known, and I think ... we looked forward to being successful citizens, because we were, let's say, tired of, successful as we may have been in the war, we were tired of that, but, ... I don't mean "I," but, I mean, our total generation, at that time, were prepared; as peoples, we knew, I think, how to cope, and build, and seek our lot in life a lot better than we would have had we not had that experience, and you'll find that in the book, and I think Brokaw will [support that]. I was very comfortable with that when I was reading the book. We veterans were ready to be civilians.
SI: Did your unit work in tandem with any nearby UN forces? Where there any units attached to your division, a French battalion, for example?
RH: No, not in my area. There may have been, but, ... not in my areas on the frontlines. It was all American troops and [in] all of our support areas, that I knew. Incidentally, this may not answer the question, but, ... also, over there, in Korea, ... fighting in the frontlines is dirty. There's not [the] cleanliness and hygienic living that you'd like to [have], ... and this happened in Korea, ... if there was any evidence of dysentery, which could become prevalent, because of the dirty conditions, living conditions, the enlisted men we always sent to the rear, and, going back to MASH, and you remember MASH , ... we would send them back to a MASH [ Mobile Army Surgical Hospital ], and they would go through a period of medical treatment, I guess, whatever antibiotics they had and so forth, at that time, and, usually, they, I think, would clear up, because it's merely a bacteria that you'd get from food or whatever, and I got it up there and never paid much attention to it, because it was not uncomfortable. It's just bacteria that gets in there. ... The medical officers would give me some antibiotics, and that was fine, but, ... it wasn't a total treatment. ... I didn't knock it out and that wasn't very good judgment on my part. I should have done whatever was necessary to get rid of it, so that it doesn't become chronic. So, ... I was sent over, this is right before I was to be sent back to the States. We'd won the war, and it seems to me I was sent to one of our hospitals in Japan for a few days, and ... I think that got rid of it. I'm a little hazy about that, and then, however, I had, from that, a condition called albuminuria. ... That's albumin in the system. I don't know whether that's picked up from cleanliness or not. Then, I was sent, ... when we were sent back to the States, to Fort Dix, to clean that up, because they don't like to let officers or men who'd been in service go until they're healthy, and it took, oh, a frustrating three or four weeks down there, 'til they're trying to get to the bottom of this thing, and I guess they finally did get rid of it, so, I was discharged. By then, I was so old, they didn't want me in the Reserves, I think?
NF: During this period, Eisenhower succeeded Truman as President. As an officer, how did you feel about Eisenhower, a famed general, becoming the Commander-in-Chief?
RH: Well, that was interesting. ... Eisenhower's total experience, ... of course, he was under MacArthur over in the Philippines. ... He was at the right place, Eisenhower, at the right time. He just happened to fit in and did an excellent job, in the minds of his superiors, and then, became commander-in-chief of our Allied Forces as they attacked the mainland of Europe. So, he did his ... job well. He jumped over a lot of other officers that had seniority over him, and so, I guess, there may have been some dissention, but, he became very popular, won the war, and the reason he won the Presidency is because he was known as, ... probably, the most successful officer in World War II, and, if it weren't for Eisenhower, we wouldn't have had this ... successful battle against the Germans in France, and the Battle of the Bulge, and so forth. So, I guess we accepted that. See, most of us were junior officers, ... major and less. You don't know what the high command is doing very much, because you're out there with the troops. [laughter]
NF: Did you respect him more than, say, a politician who had never served in the military?
RH: I suspect so, except that our image, for example, of Truman, before that, [was], see, Truman was a senator, and most of us who were interested in that knew he was a senator, and he was really a haberdasher, and, in my case, I remember him as being a haberdasher, but, he was also in the right place at the right time, because he became a senator from Missouri, and then, was in the right place at the right time, because he got on these committees, and then, was chosen to be Vice-President, because he was in favor with the party, and Roosevelt, of course, ... died, and he got there, but, in the minds of many of us, he was just the haberdasher from Missouri. That's one opinion. As usual, this opinion changed over time.
SI: I may be wrong, but, you arrived in Korea either just before or after MacArthur was removed.
RH: I think so.
SI: What was your opinion on Truman firing MacArthur? Also, what was your opinion of his replacements, Matthew Ridgeway and Mark Clark?
RH: ... Honestly, our opinion may not have been one that comes from strong, accurate experience with them, but, as far as General MacArthur was concerned, he was quite a character, an institution, and, totally, a tremendous egotist. ... Of course, he was a West Point officer, and had a rich, total military background, and his loyalty to West Point, "For the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps," was something that he embellished, and he set himself up as one with a great deal of authority, and color, and ability, mainly ability, and he did, I guess, have a very tough experience, because he didn't have the forces [in] ... the early part of the war, when he was in command. ... We didn't have the rich, strong, well-equipped Army to give him that we did later on to people like Eisenhower and others. ... I guess he was looked upon by us as you would have looked upon him. We didn't know [him] that well. We found out that he was not very reverent to Harry Truman, but, ... that's the way it was. He was such an egotist. ... He didn't think that anybody was stronger, more powerful, more highly thought of member of the United States Army as Douglas MacArthur was. ...
NF: He also felt that he was the absolute ruler of Japan.
RH: Absolutely. ... He was, at all times, aspiring to the highest circles and felt he aspired to the highest circles and lived that kind of life.
NF: He probably saw the Presidency in his future.
RH: Yes. ... He got to the point where he felt, and, I think, honestly, ... that he was reporting to no one. [laughter] You don't do that in the Army, but, MacArthur, apparently, thinks he got away with it.
SI: The military was integrated in 1948. Korea was the first war where black and white troops fought side-by-side. Was your unit integrated? Were there any problems between the black and white troops?
RH: No. In my unit, we didn't have any blacks, or "the coloreds," as we called them [at] that time, ... at the time that I was there. It may have been that, subsequent to my being there, they would have some more, because I know that ... the integration process was more active after World War II and Korea. I didn't see too many of the minorities ... of any kind in our units. They just were not as available as the rest of us were, and I don't remember its being any [problem], but, I wouldn't really know. I don't remember their being rejected or anything, because I don't remember there being that many around at that time.
NF: You probably put those issues aside in wartime.
RH: Oh, yes, yes, I think so.
SI: Did your division ever fight alongside any ROK [Republic of Korea] units?
RH: No. At our level of frontline troops, we wouldn't get involved in much of that.
SI: Were they ever in your area?
RH: Not that I can remember, not in my area.
SI: Did you ever interact with the Korean civilians?
RH: Yes. I think, in those areas, up in the fighting areas, you'd run into civilians, and, you know, the way it is in war, they infiltrate the troops, because most of the people were very poor, being excited about being with the "well-to-do" United States Army people, and we would spoil them. I remember, we would give them gifts and that's the way it is with the American soldiers. ... We all would spoil the local people, like we probably shouldn't have. We over fraternized, ... because, I guess we felt, "We're in the frontlines, we can do it." [laughter] Well, that's the way it goes.
NF: Being on the frontline, I am sure that you had at least a few close calls. Are there any experiences that you can elaborate on?
RH: Most of the close calls, and I had a lot of close calls that I remember, ... and, of course, there were close calls, I'm sure, that I don't remember, but, in the Battle of the Bulge [Central Europe Campaign], going back to Europe, I was amazingly blessed and fortunate, because I had close calls, and people, as we'd take these towns, even that were shooting at me specifically, and I was never hit one time. ... As we're attacking with tanks on both sides, and bombs, or .88s, I guess, in Europe, it would partly cover me up [with dirt], because I was in the frontlines with my radioman, ... ordering fire. I had to be up there, and I knew they were firing at me and my radioman, or whomever was with me, but, I was never hit, and I just was terribly fortunate and most blessed.
NF: Can you recall any specific situations in Korea?
RH: Well, my recollection is that ... we were pretty well controlling the infiltration of the enemy, ... as we ordered in our napalms bombs by air, and could otherwise hit the target of the Korean and Chinese soldier. ...
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO-------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Mr. Richard M. Hale on February 28, 2003, in Edison, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth and ...
NF: Nicholas Ferroni.
SI: Would you like to continue with your answer?
RH: I don't know that I answered the question, but, what is your next question?
SI: Earlier, we spoke about Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge; were you involved in the fighting in the Iron Triangle?
RH: That doesn't ring a bell with me. ...
SI: Around Pyongyang.
RH: I don't think I was close to that area. Maybe we were close to it, but, I don't remember, specifically, the fighting in that area. ...
SI: Several historians have compared the war in Korea with the First World War, particularly the trench warfare and artillery duels. Your experience sounds similar.
RH: ... Yes. Of course, we had, ... essentially, the same weapons, you know, in Korea that we had in Europe, and our artillery and support forces were, essentially, the same, even though the country and the terrain may have been a bit different, and we were trained the same way, you know. The Korean War was sort of an aftermath of ... World War II, and so, we didn't operate ... differently from what we knew in World War II, ... and so, you coped with it. We were more experienced then. We probably were a little more confident. We probably knew how to use our weapons a little bit more effectively.
NF: Speaking of the artillery, how did its effectiveness vary? How effective were the napalm bombings? How effective or ineffective was the heavy artillery, which was less maneuverable?
RH: ... My recollection was that, as I went up on-line, we were on a higher elevation, on both Heartbreak Ridge or Bloody Ridge, and were able to hold those positions, so that ... if there were counterattacks from the gooks, as we called them, we were able to contain those with our firepower and, probably, superior forces. We were better equipped, I guess, than they were, probably a lot better equipped. ... We didn't always have the help of the Air Force to drop the napalm bombs, ... but, we, by then, were able to ... call in superior firepower in almost any area that we felt it was needed, and we had it, may not have had it initially, but, we built up our superiority. Our napalm bombing tended to keep the enemy pinned down.
NF: Terrain was not such a big deal once you established your base.
RH: ... Yes, and we would establish, of course, our position, as you would call it, "King of the Hill," and we did that and held it, and, fortunately, they eventually retreated.
NF: Rather than utilize the heavy artillery in the beginning, you would use light artillery to gain a position, then, protect your position with the heavy artillery.
RH: I suspect so, because a lot of that was done before I went on-line, and I don't know all of the prior battles that went on, except that, you know, ... we had our casualties, but, we were probably a better organized force than the gooks, that is, the Chinese and the others. They were fanatic, maybe, but, they didn't have all of the wherewithal that we did.
SI: It sounds as though you were on the defensive for most of your time on-the-line, guarding against this tactic of overwhelming the command post.
SI: Did your unit ever attempt to overcome this situation?
RH: Oh, yes. We weren't always, really, on the defense. The best way, ... you know, for us to move and escape this kind of a problem was to be aggressive, and I think we were properly aggressive, and I didn't lose too many troops, as I remember it, at the time we were up there and had the superior position, because, then, we did have the Air Force help, and we did have our mortars behind us. We had enough equipment, so that unless it was a fanatic drive, we would usually be able to control them.
SI: In addition to artillery attacks, from what I have read, the American forces often sent out patrols in force. Did you ever go on such a patrol?
RH: Well, ... in Korea, it happened that we may have had minimal patrols, where we'd use the non-coms to lead the patrols, but, I don't remember, in my sector, ... any important reconnaissance patrols that I would be on, or that one of the other officers would be on, other than the continual reconnaissance that you carry out all the time to protect your position.
SI: Did you ever have to actually fire your weapon in Korea? Were you ever that close to the enemy?
RH: Not as much so as in Europe, in the Battle of the Bulge [Central Europe Campaign]. We had a lot of close calls and officers were, by then, issued the carbines. Officers, before that, had the .45 caliber pistol. That was their weapon, but, that wasn't an accurate weapon. ... Officers could handle [it and] fire, with some accuracy, at a few yards only. It was a lighter weapon that we could maneuver with and ... it had much more distance accuracy. It wasn't quite as totally accurate as the M1 rifle, which was our standard operating piece of equipment, which, now, ... they tell me, ... in the Gulf War, they've improved on that rifle that we had. We thought our M1 rifle was pretty good, but, I guess it wasn't technologically near what is being issued now.
SI: Were harassment attacks, snipers, mines, etc., ever an issue in your experience in Korea?
RH: Always something we had to be careful of. ... In most cases, as I remember, ... [for] these patrols that you talked about, we would have some of the specialists from the engineers to clean out the mines. I'm sure there must have been varying conditions where I wasn't present to handle these things, but, there are usually mines. You always had to be careful of ... mines blowing up in your face. Oddly enough, in Korea, I can't remember the mines being very abundant and I don't recall just why. ...
SI: Were snipers a threat?
RH: ... The Communist troops over there, that was their special forte . They thought they could be sneaky and envelop our command post. ... They would use that tactic of sniping as much as they could.
SI: Did you take any precautions against snipers? Since officers were a prized target, did you take off your insignia?
RH: ... You'd try very much not to let them know that you were an officer, so, ... you'd put your insignia under cover. ... We would go after their officers, they would go after us, ... of course; we tried to hide that strategy. ...
NF: When you returned home from Korea, since you had been separated from your family for so long, how vital was spending time with your family at that point?
RH: Well, that was a wonderful time, to be able to think about coming home, both before and after we were shipped home. I might recall, Nick, apparently, there was some substantial complaining to Congress about us Reserve officers, maybe it was also Reserve non-coms and Reserve enlisted men, being sent over there ... instead of the regular troops, who were being paid a monthly compensation and everything. So, apparently, ... we were relieved from duty over there before some of the other personnel were, because we were, in the minds of some, unfairly subjected to this war, and this responsibility, and so forth. So, that was a great relief and exhilaration, because, you know, when you're over there, it's such a desolate area, if you're in the frontlines over in Korea; I can't imagine ... any more de-motivating and demoralizing area than that. ... So that when you're told you're going to come back, ... [it] was very exciting and, of course, then, you think about your family and how great it's going to be to get rid of this wartime existence and be home again!
NF: Do you remember the month and year that you were discharged?
RH: I'm thinking that it was in the spring. I don't remember the month. I probably should have, but, we'd gone through that whole winter. ... That was demoralizing. [laughter] I had also had this case of albuminuria, which, probably, I picked up with the dysentery, but, they couldn't easily get rid of it, and one of the very discouraging things is that, ... you know, both officers and men had to be cleared, medically, before we could be officially discharged, and I had this condition of albuminuria, and they couldn't find out much about it, and I've talked to specialists since then, they don't know why this came about, but, they finally cured it in the Fort Dix hospital, and, I remember, "Here I am, so close to home now, and I can't come home, because I have this condition." [laughter]
NF: You were not allowed to leave Fort Dix.
RH: Yes, [finally] ... after I was there [for] a couple of weeks, my condition improved and I could come back on leave for a day or so, and then, travel back and forth. You know, the Army has a policy on everything and you had to stay there until the condition was cleared up. You were subjected to the Army rules and regulations, [laughter] but, ... that was a traumatic period, because I wanted to do anything I could to get rid of this situation and get home. It was, again, so frustrating and so monotonous, because you felt you did your job, "The war is over and, now, let me go home." [laughter] I mean, ... I think all of us felt that way.
NF: Did you take a long vacation after your discharge? What were the first things you did as a family?
RH: My recollection is, we were to be civilians again, and, after I got back from Korea, after World War II, I went ahead and worked toward finishing my Bachelors degree and my Masters degree at Rutgers, and then, it was the Korean thing that came up, and so, I was going into starting a business with ... my younger brother, and this was ... in the paving business. We were just starting. We didn't have much in the way of funding, but, we borrowed money and bought a truck, and then, we did quite well. I enthusiastically jumped into that when I got back from Korea and we built it up and grew the company successfully. It worked very well, and that was ... my life's avocation ... and excitement. ... Our company, named [the] Halecrest Company, ... became very well known in the field, in the entire area of Central Jersey. One of the exciting things that didn't happen to any other company is that, as you understand, I was pretty gung ho for Rutgers and would do anything for Rutgers, or even just to spend some time over there, if I could afford the time for my business. I can remember sponsoring Rutgers football, because, in those days, there was no television sponsorship, it was only radio sponsorship, and we were the only one in our business in the State that ... did this, a road building company sponsoring [the team], ... and it was a fun thing. I was proud to be able to do it, you know, that we could afford to do it, a great experience for station WCTC, for Rutgers, and for Halecrest.
NF: After returning from Korea, did the Army assist you at all in finding employment? Did they provide you with any guidance?
RH: Well, we had the GI Bill of Rights, when we came home from World War II. That was a wonderful thing and you'll hear Brokaw's book referring to that. That was tremendous. What would we ever have done to get, sort of, reoriented? but, coming back from Korea, there may have been a Bill of Rights and things like that, but, I didn't take advantage of them. I probably ... would have built up credits and stuff for that, but, I was too anxious to get going, go out and start working and building a company. So, I'm vague toward post-Korea orientation.
SI: Your company was primarily involved in building roads.
RH: In the beginning, just before building the roads, we'd build driveways and parking areas, and ... we became quite well known and had a good reputation in that area, and the roads didn't come along until we were more equipped with heavy equipment. We did a lot of commercial and industrial work, ... most of it private work, as we started out, and ... it was a wonderful growth period. We were there at the right time, because, after the war, as you know, our country started rebuilding and doing the things we needed to do after a war is completed, and we fit into that, I guess, relatively well.
SI: Did the Interstate Highway Act or major building projects, such as the New Jersey Parkway, boost your business?
RH: ... We did most of the smaller work, rather than the big, heavy stuff in the beginning. We weren't quite equipped to do that, but, yes, I guess, all of us in industry are benefited in this kind of rebuilding of our country, in some way or another.
NF: Coming from such a rich background in agriculture, why did you go into the paving business rather than, say, starting a farm?
RH: ... Okay, an appropriate question. ... Though I had a good background in farming, in agricultural economics, particularly, and I was particularly happy to have that background, because ... I had courses in engineering, and economics, and business management that were very valuable. My brother, my younger brother, and I, and my Dad was living then, we thought we'd start [a business]. I did this a little bit to help my younger brother. ... We had a tractor, and we started in some farming stuff, but, as was shown later, farming, in this area, is not ... the avocation that has the permanence, because land is so expensive around here; even in those days it was. The labor is expensive. So, pretty soon, we got into some small driveway work, which became a lot more lucrative than cultivating corn and whatever those farming things were, even truck farming. We became successful in the driveway business relatively fast, and so, we moved right into that, and then, with my background in engineering, in the ASTP area, and that was during the wartime, when we came back here, before we were sent over, I may have skipped that a little bit earlier, but, I had some engineering courses, and it all sort of fit and, I think, prepared us relatively well to go out and do needed things. I was fortunate to be able to do that.
NF: How important were your college and wartime experiences in making you the successful person you are today?
RH: Well, I'm not sure that I'm as totally exceptional in any way, as you might be alluding to, but, I think the war experience, as I mentioned before, was invaluable to us. We grew up, as young fellows, in a hurry, but, my background was, probably, ... also, a determining factor. ... Both my parents, my mother and my father, were quite able, gregarious, successful, socially prominent people, and I think it gave us a sense of confidence, as you grow up, to go into things and to be involved in things, and I think it's that background that helped me as much as anything.
SI: After being discharged, how soon did you return to Rutgers?
RH: ... Well, I still had that strong loyalty feeling of Rutgers affiliation. ... When I got back from Korea, ... I was spending a lot of time trying to build a business, but, I got involved with Rutgers and Friends of Rutgers in the normal way. I think, early on, I was asked to be, for example, ... an adviser to Cap and Skull, which was one of my undergraduate involvements, and I'm still an adviser to that, and lots of other areas of Rutgers involvement, because I was interested and most of the Friends, administrative people over at Rutgers, knew of my interest, my loyalty, and then, as we sponsored Rutgers football, that came shortly thereafter, we became more involved, and it was a wonderful experience for me, because it was Rutgers. ... I guess I'm still in the mode of trying to thank Rutgers for the wonderful experience that I had and, if you saw the experience, you would say that mine was [not] so great, because it wasn't nearly what yours is, but, it developed a loyalty, and I appreciate that a great deal, because my father was very loyal to Rutgers, and I think I may have said, early on, that Dad went down to Washington and got the funds to build our stadium, and I appreciated that, because I was a young fellow and quite impressed at that [time], you know, "That's wonderful that he's so loyal to his friends to do that," because he was from the University of Missouri. I guess some of those things rub off on you, and you just do similar things, when it's, maybe, a little bit in your blood, and so, every experience that I had with Rutgers and the community was just something I enjoyed; it just fit. It's something you want to do and you want to, maybe, be involved and support things. There might be a little bit of an ego trip, honestly, in there, because I guess you want to be close to areas where you can make decisions. You have to do those things you have to do in order to achieve. ...
SI: Would you mind sharing your opinions on the various Rutgers presidents and administrators that you have known over the years, Mason Gross, Edward Bloustein, and so on?
RH: ... Yes, okay. I've always been very supportive of the Rutgers administration, and going back [to] when I was an undergraduate, it was Dr. Robert C. Clothier, and he was my undergraduate president. He was, to us, a very austere, highly academic, I was going to say autocratic, I'm not sure if that's true, person. As young people, we put these people up on a pedestal, and you look back on them now, and you might have a different opinion. So, Dr. Clothier was our president and I respected him a great deal. After I came back from Korea, Mason Gross became involved, right after I came back. I got to know Mason Gross, because he became the president, and, oh, I guess early on, I was, and I can't believe this, but, one of the major Rutgers contributors, but, I didn't think so. I didn't think I gave enough to Rutgers, but, I guess I gave more than others, and Mason was very appreciative and thankful. ... Mason Gross and I, mainly Mason Gross, got involved in trying to get the Football Hall of Fame for Rutgers University. [At] that time, Harvey Harmon was the executive director of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and Mason Gross really did his part. He went in at our annual dinners ... at the Waldorf-Astoria and was ... the master of ceremonies. I spent support monies that ... I couldn't afford to spend in trying to promote Rutgers, but, I just thought that ... the Football Hall of Fame at Rutgers would be really the great, great thing, and it would be so important to the future of Rutgers and its football program if we could have the Hall of Fame here. It would really help us call the shots and ... I felt it was that important. Rutgers was the first ones to play collegiate football, and it just fit so well, and Mason Gross and I worked together. The Director of Athletics was Howard Twitchell, or Al Twitchell, Howard was his brother, and I thought he had things under control. Anyway, we apparently didn't pull some strings, and so, ... we lost the Hall of Fame. We even dedicated and surveyed land out here in Busch for it. ... We had the memorabilia in a New Brunswick store that Harvey Harmon was overseeing; just a lot of stuff collected for the Hall of Fame, and it was just, somehow, an unfortunate set of circumstances that we, Rutgers, lost the Hall of Fame. In other areas, well, just those things that alumni do that are very loyal to Rutgers, and I shouldn't say loyal; I think my loyalty is only normal and natural. I don't like to say I'm any more loyal than anyone else, ... although loyalty and Rutgers is sort of synonymous, as far as I'm concerned. ... So, Mason Gross, I think, was a very sound, good president, and Ed Bloustein came on the scene, and he came from Bennington, and we, I think, generally, our Rutgers family, didn't look upon Ed coming from a small school as being nearly the outstanding person or president ... that we had had before, and, yet, now, my reflection and looking back on President Bloustein, he really did an excellent job. He grew in the position, in the presidency, very well, and developed strong loyalty, and ... was able to be a very successful fundraiser for Rutgers, at a time that we really needed it. ... Ed and I became good friends toward the end, and then, Ed had this heart attack and died, and it was a terrible loss to us, because I'm disappointed in his replacement, but, I'm delighted, delighted with our new president, Dick McCormick, who officially became president on December 2, 2002.
SI: Bloustein realized that for Rutgers to have a viable future, the University needed to develop as a large research institution, which broke with Mason Gross's vision of "an Amherst on the Raritan." What did you think of this shift in the University's mission?
RH: Yes, well, I have to say, in Dr. Bloustein's exposure to the administration in Trenton and to the Legislature, he could see that, here, we ... have an opportunity, and maybe an obligation, to be a strong state university, and we've got to do those required things, ... because he could see that Rutgers and New Jersey were starting to strongly appear as the most prominent high tech state, and that we had to do those things in both research and teaching that were necessary. I think that's how a lot of total growth came about. Some people are more interested in research than in teaching. I think we have to excel in both, but, ... I think it's particularly important, and really an obligation, that we train young people well. ...
NF: The Class of 1944 has played a vital role at Rutgers; students like Shaun and I enjoy resources that you did not have in your day because of your class and other alumni classes. Why do you think the Class of 1944 has been so unified, so loyal and so willing to support and improve the University?
RH: Well, first, I appreciate very much your analysis and I hope, I hope, it's partially true. My feeling, as one of the more active guys, is that I've always felt that classes don't do enough for Rutgers University, and the classes that have traditionally given these forty or fifty thousand dollar plaques, or something, do very little for the University, and so, one of the reasons we got involved, over thirty years ago, in our Athletes' Glen, was that we wanted to do something that was visible and functional, and that other classes could see, and we've just been developing and developing that, so that it would be an example of what later classes can do. We kept pushing that and pushing that, and we think, now, other classes will emulate [us], or try to give larger things. I don't know how much, but, this was our hope, and I think that was one of the determining factors. I guess, Nick, also, we had several [class members] who were very interested in the scholarship area, and these are not athletic scholarships, but, these are needed scholarships in the University. ... So, now, in addition to some of the other things, ... [there] is a large scholarship program of well over a half a million dollars, right now, and [laughter] I can't believe we did it, but, ... somehow, we did it. My major project is Athletes Glen, because I think it can be an excellent example ... [for] other classes that can do so much more than we bunch of old codgers, ... and that really we may have been instigators, but, I hope, I hope, the University will follow with things like this or much larger.
NF: Do you think that your class's common experience of going through World War II influenced its level of involvement at the University?
RH: I can't help but think that had a bearing on it. Whether it was enough of a driving force, you know, I'm not sure. I think, in some respects, it was, but, how heavy an influence, it's a little hard for me to accurately fathom. I think we learned to go through the thick and the thin and maybe that, in itself, kept us in a positive mode, ... maybe, and developed an ability to move forward, somehow.
NF: Do you believe it influenced your cohesion as a class?
RH: ... Yes, oh, yes. Come to think of it, I should have mentioned that. That brought about an initial adhesiveness among some of us who were able, and I'm blessed, because I'm a little more able, possibly, than some of the others, financially, to help out in the areas that are needed. ... That amalgamation real stuck, and then, it was the Rutgers association, and, also, the Black Fifty that we talked about, and all those experiences that brought about, in large measure, ... our present social friendship and the things that we're doing, and trying to do, and hope we can continue to do for Rutgers.
NF: Since you brought up the Black Fifty ...
RH: ... I heard you guys should know about the Black Fifty, because the Black Fifty is this gang from Rutgers; I figured you're experts on it. You probably know more about it than I do, even as a member of the Black Fifty.
NF: I have read a lot about the Black Fifty and Shaun has told me a lot.
NF: You trained together, you all went your separate ways, for the most part, and all fifty of you returned home from World War II. It seems like poetic justice, in a sense.
RH: ... I think so, yes, and maybe I didn't really respond to your thought there very well, but, that probably has been a very strong determining factor as to our future, and friendship, and effectiveness, maybe, and ability to do some of the things that we hoped would be good. I don't think we're going to be finished until we can prove [to] and get a strong force going ahead in Rutgers in these subsequent classes ... to do these kinds of things. Here, we have ten thousand graduates a year. They should be strong, highly motivated, effective, friendly, strong supporters of Rutgers, and should have the Governor and the Legislature totally supporting us. We lost ground here in the last dozen years. We just dropped that sort of thing. Maybe we didn't realize it or something. ...
NF: I know the administration would like to get more classes involved. If more classes were involved, there would be no limitations on what the University could pursue.
RH: Absolutely, absolutely, without question, and this has been sort of a Dick Hale obsession, maybe it shouldn't have been, [laughter] but, it is an obsession. I just hate to see us [fumble this]. ... This is Cap and Skull; twelve years ago, or, no, let's see, maybe closer to fifteen years ago, I just felt that Cap and Skull can be the catalyst to really drive and create this strong loyalty and set up the classes so that we can be stronger in getting state funds into our university. We can develop all of those good friendship things. Jim Baker, who is a friend of mine, Dr. Baker, I think he's Class of '69, he tried to propel this by getting not only our New Brunswick campus, but, the Federation together, but, we've got a few people who just have gotten by with their own self-serving area, and I don't like to bring that up, but, that's what happened, when we have the opportunity to do the kind of things that we're talking about, and that bothers me, because there's no reason why, ... with the wonderful classes that have graduated, and are graduating today, ... that we can't really be a strong force, doing all those things that Rutgers needs. ... I probably say that over and over again, possibly too often, but, I just feel we're missing something extremely important.
NF: Which brings us back to loyalty.
SI: This reminds me of a conversation I had with another interviewee. He brought up the fact that state universities like the University of Nebraska have very little difficulty getting what they need from the state legislature, since the majority of legislators are alumni, but, Rutgers has to continually fight for the affection of the New Jersey Legislature.
RH: Yes, that's true, and I think of things like that; [at] your Big Ten schools, you have an awful lot of that same strong attachment, support, loyalty and dedication that ... we don't have. There are several reasons ... [for] it. ... They develop it in a proper way. We have resisted developing it ... in that way. We've had a couple of people in our administration who were discharged because they were trying to do that kind of thing, and that has hurt Rutgers, and we just need to do all of those things. It makes a better Rutgers; it makes a better state. It makes the Rutgers graduates more effective, helpful, loyal and successful people. You know, there's so many pluses.
NF: Do you think the same thing happens at a university like Princeton?
RH: Well, I'd say a lot of the same kind of social experiences come about down at Princeton. I have some friends who are ... involved in [the] administration [there]. Princeton is much different from Rutgers in so many ways. They, for example, have a tremendous endowment and can give scholarships to everybody and they apparently give them to most people. We can't afford to do that. We are ... just searching for monies and things, but, my point is, this loyalty and dedication of these classes coming back could supply an awful lot more funding than we are getting at Rutgers. Our alumni, I've talked to a couple of ... university presidents, alumni are the key to a successful university and we need to renew that . ...
NF: It seems like common sense
RH: Absolutely, very common sense.
NF: Today, people do not consider it too heavily.
RH: Because we, probably, don't instigate it properly, start it properly, and develop it, and get them in the habit of being loyal and dedicated, involved, you know. They have these other charities that graduates go out [and support]. ... If somebody else talked to them first, why, they'll, you know, support those other things in the community. Well, Rutgers needs to have its place at the top of the ledger, ... I hope.
SI: A few weeks ago, I read that the president of the Progressive Insurance Company made the largest single donation in history to Princeton, his alma mater.
SI: If only we could engender that kind of loyalty.
RH: Yes. I guess, maybe, your question was, ... do we have that sense of loyalty? I'm afraid we're such a different individual than Princeton that we don't and we don't for reasons like that. It's inbred, and there's a lot of legacies and stuff that go on with, ... not only Princeton, but, Harvard, Yale, and some of the other Ivy League schools that we should have, but, we haven't played our cards too well.
NF: We seem to be at a standstill now, despite the best efforts of individuals such as yourself and organizations like Cap and Skull, when we should be moving forward.
RH: I'd kill to get out of it, and I'm terribly disappointed, but, ... I do feel that our new administration is ... going to change direction, and it's not easy. ...
-------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE--------------------------------------
RH: It's going to take him [Richard L. McCormick, President of Rutgers University] awhile, as good a person as he is and probably as excellent an administrator as he has been and will be. He's got to get from this point [Editor's Note: President McCormick had taken office only a few months earlier, in the midst of a serious fiscal crisis] to the point where he can really ... put those things into action.
NF: I have one more question pertaining to the war in general.
NF: I love asking you questions about your opinions, since I think you have such a great viewpoint on these issues.
RH: Well, I appreciate that. [laughter]
NF: After serving in two wars and witnessing two subsequent wars, and given the possibility that we may be at war within a few weeks or months, what are your views on war on a personal level? [Editor's Note: This interview was conducted shortly before Operation: IRAQI FREEDOM commenced.]
RH: Well, you know, I guess I have to respond by first saying that ... I'm afraid I'm an American, and I am a nationalist, ... and just like I'm loyal to Rutgers, ... hopefully, I have, I guess, some kind of ingrained support for my country, to start off with, but, ... I guess I should say that I think ... the President's [President George W. Bush] strong stand in this particular Iraq situation is very warranted. I hope and pray that there's some way, and I know that time is fleeting, that we can avoid war, because there's so much, ... and we often don't think about this, ... terrible distress and loss of people and alliances when you go into war, and I'd like to see us go in and knock out this [Saddam] Hussein, but, [I am apprehensive of] the ramifications that it has around the rest of the Arab countries, and then, it develops into what we call a "holy war," probably, that's the way it's looked upon in a large part of the world, and I would love to get rid of that total, very treacherous dictatorship, ... and his own people are having to live [with it], they're terribly subjugated, and they need to have a higher standard of living, all of which we can bring about, because we are not an aggressor, we're not looking ... for any land. I don't believe, with our high oil reserves, and we have large reserves, that oil is ... a criterion, or strong criterion, here. Some people like to say it is, but, I don't really think so. ... I think that ... if we can find a way, short of war, to get rid of this terrorism, we've got to do it. I don't know that Iraq ... has a strong influence on the terrorism, one way or the other. I don't know, maybe you do, but, I think ... he would be a terrorist ... wherever he goes, he himself, but, I'd like to see us find a way, in the next week or two, if that's all the time we have, to find a peaceful solution.
NF: Clausewitz stated that war is an, "Extension of politics by other means."
RH: Yes. [laughter]
NF: Basically, when things cannot be decided on a political level, war is the only outcome. Recently, in the news coverage of the antiwar protests, we have seen cases such as the women's basketball player at Manhattan College who turns her back to the American flag. It seems ironic, since people who are knowledgeable about history know that it is the soldier who won them the freedom of speech.
NF: They seem to be protesting the very thing that gave them the right to protest.
RH: Yes, yes, that's a good point.
NF: During World War II, if these people had protested the war, they probably would have been thrown in jail.
RH: Yes. [laughter]
NF: Nowadays, it seems as though the great thing about this country, its freedom, is giving people too much power, in a sense. What are your views, as far as ...
RH: But, isn't that the democracy of it? If we're going to have a democracy, don't we have to accept those things? Otherwise, we can't be democratic, I guess. It's hard; ... some of those things are so unreal, like this girl. She has a right to protest, but, to protest ... against the country that has allowed her, and her parents, and her friends to be free? ... but, anyway, you know, we can sing that song over and over again and there still will be those people ... who enjoy their right to protest.
NF: On a personal level, I have come across protestors who are very anti-war; in their mindset, you are either anti-war or pro-war. There is no in-between. I believe that the majority of the people are in the middle. Nobody wants to go to war, but, you have to do what is necessary to maintain your democracy.
RH: That's about it. That is a good synopsis of the way I feel. If we have to do this and there's no other way, we've got to knock them out before ... they destroy an awful lot of other people in countries ... that need help and maybe our help is the only way to do it. I hope not. It sounds like we're getting close to something or other. [laughter]
NF: I get very intense about this, because it seems almost as though they are disrespecting veterans like yourself, and those who came before you, because they are basically saying that war is wrong and those who fought are wrong. I do not want to come off the wrong way, but, it seems to me as though they are disrespecting the veterans who served to allow them to have the freedom they enjoy today.
RH: ... Yes. I think they don't really, in many cases, realize, and maybe we're all guilty of some of this, ... the wonderful position, and benefits, and assets that have been fought for so that they could have these highly needed [freedoms]. ... They think differently. I guess we're all different, and I agree with your philosophy exactly, but, not everybody has the background, or, ... let's say, the experiences that bring us to our philosophy of life. Maybe ... they've had difficult experiences that drive them to whatever they feel that's different from ours and I'm sorry about that, because I think we're kind of the middle of the road, hopefully, good community servants. I'm not sure that we always are, but, ... I think a lot of people are not that interested in that sort of thing, and they don't see our wonderful benefits. They haven't thought as much as you have and I appreciate hearing, Nick, ... your philosophy and your sense of being.
NF: I have one more question concerning politics.
RH: Okay, that's all right; I grew up in politics.
NF: It seems as though politicians today, and society in general, are unfamiliar with the military. Since George H. Bush, who was the last president who actually served in the military, our Presidents have been come from political backgrounds rather than military backgrounds. It seems hypocritical that our President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, but, he may not be knowledgeable in the ways of the military. Do you think this has an influence on our manner of conducting military affairs, that it is based on political concerns as opposed to military strategy?
RH: ... I really don't know, except that we've got to realize this; most political people, people in political life, are opportunists. ... Unfortunately, I don't mean to degrade them, but, they're looking for something, ... very often, an ego trip, and they are there because they strive [to achieve], or had an opportunity, to get there. That's often the background of most political people, at any level, community, county, state and federal government. They are there because there's a chance for them ... to have self-aggrandizement. That's more important than anything else in their minds. Our human nature initially drives us. So, as a result of that, you've got competition, let's say, ... a variation of things. I don't know whether that answers it entirely. ...
SI: We spoke at length about your loyalty to Rutgers and your loyalty to the United States, but, we have not discussed your loyalty to New Jersey. You have served the State well over the years. Can you tell us about your service to the State?
RH: Well, ... this sounds like an ego trip of my own. We're not talking about others, but, ... I gave you those books, but, you probably didn't have time yet to read those, but, just as an idea, in the 1970s, ... I had been building up our Halecrest Company, I and my brother, but, I was sort of the leader there, and Governor Byrne had just come into office, and he came from the judiciary, rather than, probably, other walks of life, and I had been president of the Highway Committee and ... some industry groups, and so, I was getting to be known around New Jersey a little bit. So, I had a group of friends and ... called them together, and you'll see this in ... this book, and [I] thought that instead of being against the Governor and things, oh, the economy was very depressed, a difficult time, people needed work in New Jersey, and it was just a very dark time. If you think this, today, is difficult, it's a different situation, but, ... there was a lot more stress and strife in 1974, and so, I got a group together, people that I thought were intelligent business people, and met down ... at the Forrestgate Country Club this one morning. I said, essentially, "Let's get together. Here, we have a Governor, instead of criticizing [him], like everybody else does, and it's usually of no benefit, let's get together and choose things that would benefit us all," and so, we established, then, what is called the New Jersey Alliance for Action, and we did get together. We got things in New Jersey going. We got labor and management together. We got projects going and great, great things, and other states have tried to copy it, but, they haven't been able to, and they'd talk to us about, "How do you do it?" Well, we'd tell them how to do it, but, they never seemed to be able to organize it. This is a case where you can really help a state, or a community, a county, by getting together and trying to select a common goal, looking at the bigger picture, rather than these little, self-serving things we're inclined to get involved with, ... and look for the good of all. That sounds terribly righteous. I don't mean to be that righteous, but, ... it's just common sense to me, and people, after forming the Alliance, say, "Mr. Hale, I just think that's wonderful. How in the world did you do it?" Do it? It's just plain, old common sense, and I don't think it's anything very intelligent, but, it works . It was a lot of fun getting together and accomplishing important things, and every governor, incidentally, has said to me, to us, "I couldn't have done this without you." It became the most important, most influential group in New Jersey. Very often, you need stress or crisis to bring something like this about. You need dire straits, common distress. ...
SI: From reading the book, I noticed that you only intended for the Alliance to last through the economic crisis of the mid-1970s.
RH: Yes, but, it's interesting how these things work. I thought, "If we can, in the next two years, ... get things started, we'll just disband it," [laughter] but, the way it goes, there were so many continuing needs and things it could successfully do, ... there's so much dependence and reliance on it, that, ... you know, it's still in existence.
NF: In 1987, Rutgers honored you by naming the Hale Center after you.
RH: Well, that was another interesting experience. When the head football coach, Dick Anderson, and I think the president of the Board of Governors, at that time, was Floyd Bragg, both of whom were friends of mine, approached me over at the Rutgers Club, and they had this fancy loose-leaf notebook, and said, "Dick," (we knew that ... they were building, and it was a very much needed, the sports facility there, adjoining the stadium, because we had to keep up with the other schools, you know how that is), and they said, "We want to name this the Hale Center." I was so embarrassed that I took that book back and I wouldn't talk to Ruth or anybody, because I thought, "That's just absolutely wrong. There's no reason why ... this should be named the Hale Center." So, that was quiet, and I guess we got together, and ... they had hoped that, maybe, I could help arrange, also, for some financial support that would give [aid to the project], because they needed some funding. Any time there's a new building, you know, ... usually you're short of funds, and I said, "All right, that's a nice thought." I didn't want it named for me, but, the one thing I thought of, and I did say [this to them], "If it weren't for my Dad, who was from the University of Missouri, going down for his friends ," the Director of Athletics, George Little, at that time, and a few of his other friends at Rutgers, "and getting the money to build this new stadium," which was the one right where our present stadium is, I thought, "if anybody deserves, maybe, a name[sake], it should be my father," and that's the only way I could rationalize this. "Okay, it can be named the W. Robert Hale Center." So, I talked to President Bloustein and ... he said, "Dick, you have done so much for Rutgers," and I never thought of it that way, I didn't, but, he said, "You've done so much for Rutgers, why don't you just call it the Hale Center." [laughter] So, that's the way the thing ... worked out, and it, I think, has been nice to have, but, I think of it as a sort of a memorial to my Dad, who really was responsible for doing that, because I looked at myself as, ... the things that I do for Rutgers [are] ... the things that I love to do and appreciate doing, and I want to carry the torch for Rutgers all the time.
NF: One of the reasons why I am so honored to conduct this interview with Shaun is, my first experience at Rutgers was my recruiting visit, when I met Coach Terry Shea at the Hale Center. One of my first questions was, "Why is this named the Hale Center?" He said it was named after Richard M. Hale, an alumnus who was very supportive of the University. I did not really find out more about you until I began to work on this project. When Sandra and Shaun asked me to call up Dick Hale to set up an interview, I said, "As in the Hale Center?" [laughter] The Hale Center was my first experience at Rutgers University, as a member of the football team.
RH: That's, again, interesting. Terry Shea was a good friend of mine, as was his whole family. They were very fine folks. It's just a shame that we can't have top quality people like this here all the time, but, you know the kind of competition that has developed here. Well, ... you're very thoughtful to reflect on that and I think that you're the kind of people that we enjoy being part of Rutgers University, because you're the ones that have a healthy outlook and will make it go. A lot of people, (hopefully, accurately analyzing the situation), don't see much more than the present, you know, and I guess that's humankind. ... They just see things as they are now. Of course, you folks, having, maybe, the benefit of a historical background, are reflective and see the big picture, and observe what's happened in the past, and see how it might happen in the future, and so forth, but, often, people probably don't think this way, don't have nearly the visionary ability.
NF: The present sets the stage for the future.
RH: ... Yes, of course, that's right. That's your philosophy of life, is history and how does it repeat itself? and what's going to happen? and so forth. So, you're blessed to be able to be in that mode. I think you see the whole picture better than a lot of people, [who] get focused on our "little things" here together. We sometimes don't know enough to see and live it.
SI: I think many people simply do not care to understand. Many of my friends, when we discuss the state of Rutgers, as you said, only focus on the present. Also, I believe they give into conspiracy theory thinking; they believe that it is "us" against the Rutgers administration. Having studied the history of the University, I think that we are constantly faced with the challenge of getting the alumni, the administration and the students all on the same page, working together and looking forward.
RH: No question, that's exactly it!! That's one reason why I am involved in the groups that I'm involved with in Rutgers, Cap and Skull, its loyalty and leadership, being an important one, but, that I hope we can always speak to that in a very positive way. ... I think our new president sees that, I think he needs a lot of help in making it happen, and I think we've got to step in and help him, as best we can.
SI: I was happy to see, the other day, in dealing with the budget cuts, that President McCormick actually called upon the students to protest to the Legislature and use their voices.
RH: Yes, it was most needed.
SI: I believe it was a good move, but, at one of the rallies the other day, I saw only a handful of people out there. If you were to hold an anti-Iraqi war protest, hundreds of people would have probably turned out.
RH: Well, ... that's, again, an accurate observation, because the question is, "How do we turn this around? How do we work with that and make those important things happen?" Our forming the New Jersey Alliance will work here, too.
NF: It seems to me as though the administration has to play catch up as it seeks to deal with thirty thousand students, with even larger expansions on the horizon.
RH: Yes, we must lead; ... the thing that I feel badly about, and I guess a lot of us are concerned about, how about all of these young people in New Jersey who are qualified, and should have the experience that you and I had, and can't get into Rutgers, or some other good school? What do they do? We have some back ups. We've started Middlesex County College, for example, these county colleges, and that is a route to solving some of the problem, but, I feel badly that we really are turning down good kids, because we don't have room for them. It seems to me, as a citizen, ... we've got to do something substantial about that, and that's not original with me. I mean, I'm just one of those who is concerned about it. This must be a higher priority, not only for New Jersey, but for our nation.
SI: There is always the problem of trade-offs. Some look to the Internet as a means of solving this problem, but, then, you lose the college experience.
RH: Yes, but, ... if that's the only present thing, I hope we can develop it appropriately, ... because we have a high tech opportunity in New Jersey and elsewhere for a lot of young people to really benefit. We've got the Fortune 500 right here in New Jersey and, ... what do we call it? maybe the, ... they call it the modern classroom, ... the smart classrooms that we've started, no, ... I'm thinking of ... this new program of education that's probably got great future, especially since there are many that we can't [reach], ... what do you call it? the virtual ... education, virtual classrooms, and so, ... hopefully, if that can be developed, and I'm not too familiar with that, but, what a wonderful thing, if it works, to get to some of these people that we're not able to educate. ... That's maybe one answer, but, ... look how well equipped some of these kids are to educate. ... Some of them, maybe, are not outstanding, but, they're good enough to at least have a college experience, and enter into society, and do things that you fellows can do, but, they don't have the opportunity and encouragement, sometimes.
NF: Since I am interested in politics, I always pay attention when the Legislature deals with issues related to education or health insurance. I believe that education allows us to fulfill our potential as human beings.
RH: ... I've appreciated the time that you've taken and the effort that you've taken, and maybe I don't fully understand how your archive program fully works, but, I think you fellows deserve attention, and I appreciate it.
NF: It is our pleasure.
SI: Thank you for speaking with us.
RH: Well, ... I'm delighted. I can't believe that what I have to say makes total sense, or ... is any different from what anybody else would say, but, I'm willing to help, if I can.
SI: Thank you, we appreciate your support.
RH: And I am sorry; I didn't realize that we were going to be here until two o'clock. ... I would be happy to have had some sandwiches and things. If you leave undernourished, I'll feel terrible. [laughter] So, I mean, use your own judgment; I'm available. I seem to have been involved in different things, but, ... if there's anything that you think you need help with that I can help you with, don't hesitate to call, and Nick, ... it's been very humble and nice ... when people are that way, you know. ...
NF: You are doing us the honor.
SI: This concludes the interview with Mr. Richard M. Hale.
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Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 6/16/03
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 6/17/03
Reviewed by Richard Hale 7/28/03